QMYOU Alumni Magazine Issue 76 - Page 11

Further work aims to identify how effective Portobello honey could be in dealing with antibiotic resistant bacteria such as MRSA “The trouble with some antibiotics is that they contain one active ingredient to which some bacteria can become resistant. Bacteria can mutate and therefore survive by overriding the effectiveness of the antibiotic. The great thing about honey is that it contains many different ingredients which could be antimicrobial. This means it could offer more ways of successfully fighting bacteria.” In simple terms, the honey could be viewed as an army which has lots of different strategies for killing the enemy. In contrast, an antibiotic may have only one strategy, and if unsuccessful, the bacteria goes on to live another day. The honey used in the study came from beehives kept in Portobello Community Orchard which is maintained by PEDAL, a small community organisation. The QMU study showed that Portobello honey has specific qualities - it was acidic, contained hydrogen peroxide and plant polyphenols, and showed antioxidant activity - all of which are important in the killing of bacteria. Dr Fyfe continued: “Many varieties of honey exist because honey bees pollinate plants grown in specific geographical areas. This is why honey grown in different parts of the world is unique in taste, appearance and texture. For example, Manuka honey is produced by honey bees which pollinate the Manuka plant. This results in Manuka honey, not only having a unique appearance and taste, but also having specific properties which are determined by the area in which it was produced. Honey contains polyphenols which are important at killing bacteria and Manuka honey is known throughout the world to possess unique antibacterial properties. The QMU research found that although Manuka honey had 10 times more polyphenols than Portobello honey, surprisingly, both honeys were equally as effective at killing the three specified bacteria in the study. This suggests that there could be some highly active polyphenols which are unique in Portobello honey. Dr Fyfe concluded: “The fact that it kills all three different organisms indicates that Portobello honey could have a universal antibacterial activity.” The QMU research team wishes to further develop this study to establish if Portobello honey has a unique polyphenol content. Further work also aims to identify how effective Portobello honey could be in dealing with antibiotic resistant bacteria such as the superbug MRSA. Dr Fiona Coutts, Dean of Health Sciences, said: “This research work has highlighted an area of untapped potential for Scotland. There are many aspects of this work which offer potential benefits for the future. If Portobello honey continues to show positive results it could offer an excellent economic alternative to importing expensive honey from the other side of the world. By harnessing the potential of a product that would be produced locally, it could have a positive outcome for the development of a new local supply chain. More importantly, it can destroy specific bacteria associated with wound infections and therefore has the capacity to improve patient recovery and impact on health service spending on wound infection control. “This pilot study, which has recently been published in ‘Phytotherapy Research’, clearly demonstrates the relevance of QMU’s research work in the area of health and rehabilitation and emphasises our commitment to improving quality of life.” The research team is now seeking funding to investigate whether Portobello honey and other Scottish honeys have the ability to inhibit bacteria which are resistant to antibiotics, for example MRSA. In addition, they are interested to establish if local Scottish honey could be used to treat some hospital acquired infections.” ❒ QMYOU / Health & Rehabilitation 11